Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes that the company is the victim of deliberate sabotage perpetrated by an employee.
According to CNBC, the high profile executive sent an email to Tesla employees this weekend alleging that there was a saboteur in the company’s ranks who had changed code in an internal product, logged into systems without authorisation, and leaked “large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties.”
In his email to staff, Musk says that the company is attempting to determine if the alleged saboteur was acting alone or working in cahoots with outsiders.
I was dismayed to learn this weekend about a Tesla employee who had conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations. This included making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames and exporting large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties.
The full extent of his actions are not yet clear, but what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad. His stated motivation is that he wanted a promotion that he did not receive. In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move.
However, there may be considerably more to this situation than meets the eye, so the investigation will continue in depth this week. We need to figure out if he was acting alone or with others at Tesla and if he was working with any outside organizations.
The nature of the data leaked, and details of which internal systems were accessed and tampered with were not made public. However, news of the “saboteur” email to Tesla staff comes hot on the heels of revelations of a “small fire” that halted the firm’s body production line on Sunday night.
In a separate email Musk called on staff to remain vigilant and adopt the maxim of former Intel chief Andy Grove:
Could just be a random event, but as Andy Grove said, “Only the paranoid survive.” Please be on the alert for anything that’s not in the best interests of our company.
Tesla recently announced it was slashing its workforce by at least nine per cent. It’s natural to speculate that if someone is sabotaging systems or leaking data that they might be a disaffected employee.